Difference between homicide and murder

What is the difference between homicide and murder? In case of this happening, what is fatal bodily harm? What punishment should I expect in the event of a homicide? And how much does a criminal defense attorney cost in such proceedings?

When you or a close relative are being investigated for homicide, it is understandable that you have tons of unanswered questions. Therefore, we would like to give you an initial overview of homicide under German criminal law on this page.

Difference between Homicide and Murders
Difference between Homicide and Murders

When you or a close relative are being investigated for homicide, it is understandable that you have tons of unanswered questions. Therefore, we would like to give you an initial overview of homicide under German criminal law on this page.

First of all: homicides are usually cases of so-called necessary defense according to § 140 StPO. This means that you will always have a criminal defense attorney at your side. The selection of a suitable criminal defense lawyer should definitely be made by you and not by the court. During the proceedings, you need an exceptionally experienced defense lawyer who specializes in criminal law, whom you trust, and who is at your side without restriction. Attorney Dr. Böttner has been advising and defending successfully in the area of ​​homicides for years.

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Willfulness or negligence – what’s the difference between homicide and murders?

A major difference in the classification of homicide is whether the killing was intentional or negligent. It is a widespread misconception that murder occurs intentionally, while homicide occurs “in the effect”. In fact, both offenses are intentional homicides. If the killing was merely negligent, then criminal offenses such as negligent homicide or bodily harm resulting in death come into consideration.

But when exactly is there a willful homicide? There is usually intent when one of the following questions can be answered with “yes”:

  • Either the perpetrator want the person to die?
  • Did the perpetrator know for sure that the person was dying?
  • Did the perpetrator at least approve of the fact that the person would die?

What’s the difference between murder and homicide?

It is only considered murder if a person was deliberately killed and there is also a so-called murder feature. The legislature has finally listed the murder features in the law.

A murder occurs when the perpetrator

  • out of lust for murder,
  • to satisfy the sexual instinct,
  • out of greed,
  • for low motives,
  • insidious,
  • awful,
  • with publicly dangerous means,
  • or to make another criminal act possible or to cover it up

Typical variants of murder are, for example, the insidious killing of a sleeping victim or the killing to get an inheritance. When exactly such a murder feature actually exists is often the biggest point of contention in homicides.

If none of these murder features are present, however, it is at most a homicide and not murder.

This distinction is particularly important for the amount of the penalty. The murder requires life imprisonment. Also, murder cannot become statute-barred. Homicide, on the other hand, is punished with imprisonment of between five and fifteen years. Life imprisonment can only be imposed in the case of, particularly serious homicide. The homicide expires after 20 years.

Whether there is a murder feature is often disputed in court proceedings and offers potential for criminal defense. It is all the more important that the murder suspect has an experienced criminal defense attorney at his side who stands up for his rights in all procedural situations.

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Bodily harm resulting in death

Bodily harm resulting in death is a “mixture” of willful bodily harm and negligent homicide.

For example, the offense can be met if the accused tried to hit the victim in the face with his fist in a scramble, but hit an unfavorable spot so that the other person died. The accused did not want to kill the victim, nor did he accept death. He just wanted to hurt him. The death, therefore, occurred only negligently.

If convicted, bodily harm resulting in death is punishable by imprisonment of between three and fifteen years.

What penalties are to be expected?

The penalty always depends on the circumstances of each case. For example, previous convictions or the motives of a suspect for the act can affect the sentence. Therefore, no serious information on the amount of the penalty can be given without a specific reference to the individual case. However, the law provides for certain minimum and maximum penalties for each criminal offense.

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Another main difference between homicide and murder is:

Sunday evening, 8.15 p.m., ARD, everyone is wondering who, for example, Commissioner Thiel and forensic doctor Boerne will convict of the murder today? Or was it homicide after all? What exactly is the difference?

As a lawyer, one likes to sit a little skeptical in front of the television when it comes to crime novels because the scriptwriters often do not differentiate between murder and homicide and if so, unfortunately, very often quite wrong. We like to explain:

Murder is standardized in Section 211 of the Criminal Code and is always punished with life imprisonment. To kill a person, one of the so-called murder features must be added to the fact that the offense can be realized. The murder traits are:

  • If we kill a person out of lust for murder, to satisfy the sexual instinct, out of greed or otherwise for low motives
  • killing in an insidious or cruel manner or by means that are dangerous to the public
  • killing to make another crime possible or to cover it up

If none of these characteristics is present, then there can be at most one manslaughter according to Section 212 of the Criminal Code. In order to commit manslaughter, one must intentionally kill a person. Whereby resolution means to act with knowledge and willingness.

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